96 per cent of Brits fail to check their skin the recommended once a month for skin cancer, and more than 77 per cent would not recognise signs of the disease, according to a survey of over a thousand people, carried out by the British Association of Dermatologists and being released in time for Sun Awareness Week 2015 (4th-10th May).
Worryingly, 72 per cent of people admitted that they had been sunburned in the last year. This is of concern given that the risk of developing melanoma – the deadliest form of skin cancer – is more than doubled in people with a history of sunburn compared with people who have never been sunburned.
Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the UK and rates have been climbing since the 1960s. Every year over 250,000 new cases of non-melanoma skin cancer – the most common type – are diagnosed, in addition to over 13,000 new cases of melanoma, resulting in around 2,148 deaths annually.
Johnathon Major of the British Association of Dermatologists said: “Almost three-quarters of people we surveyed admitted that they had been sunburned in the last year, which is shocking. With sunny days already making an appearance in parts of the UK, it is likely that this figure will remain high this year. This is a reflection of poor sun protection habits – people underestimate the damage that sunburn can do to their skin, and many think that skin reddening is just a harmless part of the tanning process, rather than a sure sign that you have damaged your skin irreparably.”
Sun Awareness Week 2015, in partnership with sponsor La Roche-Posay, will culminate in an event at the Westfield shopping centre in Shepherd’s Bush, London. Consultant Dermatologists from the British Association of Dermatologists and nurse volunteers will be on hand to speak to the public, educate them on how to check their skin for skin cancer and provide information on sun protection techniques. There will also be a UV photo-booth to demonstrate the effect of sun damage on the skin, giving the public the opportunity to upload their pictures to social media websites during the event.
Charlotte Proby, Professor of Dermatology at Ninewells Hospital and Medical School in Dundee, and Chair of the British Association of Dermatologists’ Skin Cancer Prevention Committee said, “Rising skin cancer rates are a major health concern for the UK, and some dermatology departments are stretched to capacity trying to keep up with cases.
“Many people in the UK are aware of the dangers; however, this has yet to translate into a culture of sun protection and skin checking which would do a lot to curb the incidence and deaths from this disease. As summer comes around again we want people to consider the message that you can enjoy the warm weather whilst staying safe.”
Tessa Tysome of La Roche-Posay said, “This year we are very proud to be the sole sponsors of the British Association of Dermatologists’ Sun Awareness roadshow. UV sun damage is a serious issue that many people underestimate and Sun Awareness Week is a fantastic opportunity for La Roche-Posay and Anthelios to show our commitment to promoting healthy skin care.”
The British Association of Dermatologists surveyed 1,018 people over the summer of 2014 at national events across the country. The results are as follows:
- 84% are worried about skin cancer in the UK climate
- 88% don’t think skin cancer is any easier to remove than other cancers
- 95% know skin cancer rates in the UK are still rising
- 40% never check their skin for signs of skin cancer; 36% check their skin infrequently; 6% once a year; 4% once a month and 6% four times a year.
- 77% do not feel confident that they could recognise signs of a melanoma.
- 81% do not feel confident that they could recognise signs of a non-melanoma skin cancer.
- 72% of people have been sunburned in the past year.
Over the summer the British Association of Dermatologists, with sponsor La Roche-Posay, will be visiting the following events with the “Be Sun Aware” roadshow:
- Westfield, Shepherd’s Bush, 9th-10th May
- BBC Gardeners’ World Live 2015, NEC Birmingham, 11th-14th June
- New Forest County Show, Hampshire, 28th-30th July
Press release from The British Association of Dermatologists (BAD)